Despite the long trek, we decided to go into Bishop so we could pick up our resupply box that would get us to Mammoth. The hike out (14 miles) was breathtaking, with several lakes connected by streams. There is no shortage of water in this section so we stopped to refill water frequently and bathe sometimes. Once we got over Kearsarge Pass, we weaved through switchbacks before stumbling upon a parking lot for day hikers. Right away, we spotted a man in a pickup truck who kindly said he’d give us a ride down to Independence. He turned out to be a trail angel, following the bubble of hikers and giving out free rides and cold drinks simply out of the goodness of his heart. He is retired and says he likes the human interaction and to see people’s faces light up. It amazes me that people like him give so much just to help hikers. We were lucky again with a friendly hitch into Bishop, where we replaced gear and stocked up on food at the local Smart and Final grocer. There, we met another hiker who decided his resupply would be only ingredients for an “epic trail mix,” a bear canister full of assorted snacks all mixed together. We grabbed dinner before heading out at the brewery in town, where we met three men setting out for the JMT the following day. The minute we walked into the restaurant they asked if we were hikers (an obvious question but still necessary to preface) and bought us all beer. We ate real food and laughed at this hilarious bunch until we knew we needed to get going. We got a ride with a trucker hauling dog food from Bishop to Independence, then texted the trail angel from before, who agreed to take us back up to the trail from Independence. Eventually we made it back to the base of the Kearsarge Pass trailhead, camping at a campground that felt like a luxury.
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